Chandigarh tri-city flats are for millionaires!

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS

Chandigarh : The tri-cities of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali have long had an image of being populated by the salaried classes but, going by the skyrocketing property prices, soon only millionaires will be living there.

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The latest schemes floated by the Haryana Housing Board (HHB) and the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) have only given a further push to the property boom in the tri-city area, home to about 1.5 million people.

While Chandigarh is the twin capital of Haryana and Punjab, Panchkula is in Haryana and Mohali is in Punjab.

The HHB has offered three- and four-bedroom flats for the middle class for over Rs.3.4 million ($85,000) and Rs.5.2 million ($132,000) respectively. The flats are in Sector 20 of Chandigarh’s satellite town of Panchkula, 20 km from the city centre.

“What are they trying to prove? Which salaried class man can buy a flat for that amount? With bank loans becoming difficult, things will only get more difficult. Are these flats targeted at the rich and money-spinners who will only keep getting richer?” asked private sector employee Dheeraj Bhanot.

Interestingly, in the Chandigarh circle of income tax, comprising all these three cities, the total number of millionaires is barely 1,800. These are the people who have shown their income to be more than Rs.1 million annually.

If the HHB has offered the “out of reach” flats, the CHB recently went into collaboration with private sector builder Parsvanath to offer luxury flats at the IT Park in Chandigarh.

A one-bedroom studio apartment there was oversubscribed despite a price of Rs.5.25 million under the Parsvanath project, located between the city’s famous Sukhna lake and nearby Shivalik hills.

Bigger flats in the same project were priced at over Rs.10 million.

The high point of property price in Chandigarh was the offer for a 500-square yard plot in the Parsvanath project at a whopping over Rs.60 million. Out of the 15 plots on offer, just under half found applicants.

A 1,000-square yard plot, double the size of that in Parsvanath, in one of the central sectors of Chandigarh is available for Rs.60-70 million.

“The government housing agencies, which are supposed to provide affordable housing, are themselves demanding commercial prices. Even private builders are not demanding that kind of money. Middle class people cannot afford these flats,” real estate consultant Amarjit Singh Sethi told IANS.

The CHB had four years ago floated two-bedroom flats in Chandigarh priced at Rs.3.2 million – much beyond the reach of the majority of salaried people.

Another Haryana government agency – Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) – is reaping gold these days with every scheme it offers.

Last year, HUDA floated a scheme for 800 plots in various housing colonies across Haryana. Over 2.6 million applications were received for this. HUDA earned a handsome Rs.150 million from the application forms itself.

Keeping the earnest money with it for six months before the allotment draw made HUDA richer by Rs.5 billion from bank interest alone – enough for the agency to carry out development works in new sectors.

The high-priced flats being offered by the government have pushed up property prices in the open market.

“It is better to be a slum dweller in Chandigarh. At least, after a few years, you will be rehabilitated by the government,” rued Vishal Sharma, referring to the rehabilitation of migrants in Chandigarh.